How do I love Jesus? Let me count the ways: he’s kind, gentle, humble, generous, full of joy (he smiles a lot), good, faithful, caring (he’s the Good Shepherd) and he loves us unconditionally. I’m sure there is more about him to love, and perhaps you’ve been able to add to the list. I want to switch to how what we love about Jesus can become part of who we are as well.
God is the only one who is good (Mark 10:18) so it follows that any good we see in ourselves or each other must necessarily come from him. Paul told us to be imitators of Christ, just as he was (1 Corinthians 11:1). This seems an impossible task, but he doesn’t leave us hanging. Jesus is so generous he shares who he is with us, including his kindness, goodness, gentleness, humility, joy, faith and love. We don’t have to come up with ways to make ourselves more like him. We could never do that no matter how hard we try – we know it and so does he.
What we can do, through grace which enables us, “by virtue of his indwelling life for us, [is] to live his life because he’s expressing it through us, not because we’re doing it for him” (Steve McVey, Trinitarian Conversations, Volume 2, Interviews with More Theologians [You’re Included], Grace Communion International – available on Amazon).
He expresses his love, kindness and gentleness as he lives in us and we live in him. It doesn’t happen by fiat of course but as we get to know him, learn to trust him more and practice dying to ourselves. As Paul indicated, imitating Jesus is a lifelong pursuit, but it’s worth all our energy, might and love.
Everyone wants to be loved. Unfortunately, in this broken world, many don’t get the love they want or need. We do different things in response to this, including getting angry, resentful or bitter. Some of us try to hide our insecurity about lack of love by acting out, hurting others (hurt people hurt people) or drowning our sorrows in substances or escapism. Some disguise lack of love with working too much or other excessive behaviors.
Even if we don’t know or understand it, we are all deeply loved. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This is possibly what I love the most about Jesus – how he loves me. And how he loves you. His love is so big he loves each of us as if we were the only one. When we feel no one cares, Jesus loves us dearly, unconditionally, completely, intimately and extravagantly.
He loves me and you so much he gave us the gift of himself – a loving Savior who not only loves us, but wants to include us in his family forever. He has also given us everything we need for life and godly living (2 Peter 1:3) and so much more. I could go on and on about all his huge, wonderful gifts but I’ll just mention a few favorites: chocolate, flowers, all sorts of food, colors, fragrances – so much to be thankful for. Only a loving God would think of all the little things to make this life more enjoyable.
Some amazing things to remember about his love: he loved us first (we don’t have to do anything to get him to love us). His love is so strong it sent him to the cross and kept him there until he finished the work he came to do – die for us. Did I mention it’s unconditional? He places no conditions – or borrowing from the Genie in the movie Aladdin, no provisos, no quid pro quos, just the sweet love of Jesus lavished on us freely and without limits.
Jesus loves me, this I know. And for that, I love him so.
Psalm 23 is no doubt the most well-known and well-loved psalm. It’s the first one kids memorize in Sunday school and a lot of adults can recite it still. Unless a person really thinks about what it means to be shepherded, it can simply be rote and meaningless. Jesus called himself our shepherd but how often do we think of him in that way?
Our shepherd Jesus provides everything we need. When he leads us by the still waters, we can relax and rest in his presence. Laying down in a green pasture means we don’t have to be looking over our shoulders for danger or trouble. We can even stay calm when the enemy is circling around us. We know he will always guide us and his loving presence is with us in this life and the next.
I love that he describes himself as our good shepherd (John 10:11-18). The good shepherd knows us intimately and loves us so much he laid down his life for us. And after the crucifixion and resurrection, he did not leave us alone. He is still guiding, protecting and loving us. How can we do anything but love the shepherd of our souls with our whole hearts? He is our true champion and defender – always.
We humans are a fickle bunch. We change our minds as often as the weather. Our loyalties fluctuate over many areas of life, depending on our experiences, feelings, politics, financial situation, age and health. We can’t help it – it’s part of being human, at least it seems to be in this social climate. This makes it hard to depend on anything – people, brands, governments, sometimes even ourselves. Perhaps the contrast between our fickleness and God’s faithfulness is what makes that part of God’s character so attractive.
We can always count on God’s faithfulness. He can’t be anything other than faithful, and as a fickle, sometimes faithless person, I love that about him. I know he will always be true to who he is and true to his word; he will always be on my side and always love me. I never have to doubt his motivation for anything he does (or doesn’t do); I don’t have to worry that if I mess up something, he will blow his top. No walking on eggshells with God. His constant steadfastness is one of the foundations of my life – and I can trust him with my life.
How amazing to know God is as steady as a rock and he will never let me down. His constancy is the one thing I can always depend on – always and forever.